Backward Hope

lot3bHope is about an unknown future and hopefully our hope is that “this” will not end up the “that” that we dare not to speak.

Even the dictionary gets it wrong with “expectations” and “certain things to happen” as though the second greatest virtue is limited to our future and not our past.  “Faith” and “Charity,” please set aside as we show  ourselves that the power of “Hope” can heal the backwards of our lives.

There’s a quaint, quiet town outside busy, metropolitan Milwaukee that illustrates “hope” as defined by the dictionary.  Driving through it, it reminds me of a movie set – when you walk behind the store fronts you see the boards propping them up.  It seems as shallow as dismissing my past as forever gone and not to be bothered with any longer because there are “certain things to happen.”  (Where’s Miss Mary Sunshine when you need her?)

When we seek closure or some kind of healing that can never be granted because the past is gone, we easily use the word “wish.”  “I wish that that memory could fade away from me,” or “I wish healing about that incident or episode that I regret.”  We can’t hope for it because of hope’s limitations.

Can’t the second of the greatest virtues be broadened without blowing itself up?  Can’t the power of hope in all its full maturity offer a healing or a softening to that “thing” of the past?  “Wishing” works well in fairy tales but “hope” is very effective in healing what cannot be healed in order to get on with our lives.

Those mistakes of the past, whatever they may be, have a cute way of haunting and persisting in our minds and behaviors.  Looking blindly toward an unknown future, like my quaint town, feebly attempts to bypass our pasts as though they never existed.

Try this example.  If you dent your left driver’s bumper then guess where your next accident will occur.  (No one seems to guess it correctly.)  Your next accident will be your left driver’s bumper.

The longer we live the more background we have.  Each of our “store fronts” may look clean and neat to those who drive by us but unless we hope our ways toward our backs then we are simply a scene set on a studio lot in a cheap make- believe-movie.

About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on
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